Dress It Up!

by admin on April 12, 2010

Recently I attended a bridal shower for a young lady.  Besides numerous faux pas (which I may share at another point in time), I was shocked when the bride’s mother finally came up to me—dressed in tight, ripped jeans and a tight spagetti-strap shirt.  Both myself and the guest who had driven with me had taken great care to dress in nice slacks and tops. After glancing around the room, I saw that most of the “young” people there were also dressed in sloppy jeans, cut off shorts, tight-tight tops, etc.

Okay, so I thought maybe this was just a one-time weird event until I went to a baby shower for a friend’s son.  My friend (the grandma-to-be) was dressed in a nice dress, but her daughter, who was the hostess of the shower, was…again…dressed in a tight-tight black spaghetti strap top with the words “Billy’s Mom” across her large bosom – so of course everyone had to stare at her chest in order to read what was written across it. Because she was the main hostess,  she had taken it upon herself to transport the gifts from the gift table to the mother to-be so her ample bosom bounced across the room every few minutes to bring a new gift.

Is it me, or am I out of the new generational loop where there’s an entirely new dress code for special events like bridal showers and wedding showers? Do these folks not know how they look? Is it more important to feel “comfortable” or do they honestly think they are wearing “nice” clothing? Don’t take me wrong, I am not of the “country club” set nor do I wear “nice” clothes often – I run a small farm, so you’ll find me most days in jeans and boots. But come on, I think it is appropriate and respectful to dress nicely to someone’s special event.   0411-10

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicki April 12, 2010 at 8:03 am

I know exactly what you mean about no one dressing appropriately anymore. At my sisters Semi-Formal wedding, half the guests changed into jeans for the reception! After my mother and sister had worked so hard to make everything look spectacular.

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Katrina April 12, 2010 at 8:03 am

I am 29 and I know a lot of my friends were just never taught the basics, ie wear a slip, layer a camisole under see through or might be see through blouses, don’t say you don’t like what the host cooks unless it will literally kill you to eat it. I am continually amazed at what some parents left out. It is not as if these people are not inteligent people, but they were never taught to think this way. I think it is a continued rebelion from the 1960′s-1970′s. A lot of people feel it is just being casual. There is casual, and then there is inappropriate.

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Tana April 12, 2010 at 9:01 am

Well, for me it depends on the event, location, and the people involved. For the baby shower in the home of a close friend, I’ll usually wear clean jeans and a casual, but nice top. If I know that their family tends to be more on the formal side, I’ll dress up more. For the wedding shower at a country club hosted by the mother-in-law of my college roommate it was a nice dress and low heels. And yes, I do think that many people just don’t know how to dress appropriately for the event. Whatever you wear should be clean, whole, and secure enough that you’re not clubbing some one with your breast each time you turn around.

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dr nic April 12, 2010 at 9:20 am

I really think its a generational thing. I’m on the border between Gen X and the Milennials (32 yrs old) and have found that when I wear clothing nicer than a pair of dark jeans and a top I get asked why I’m so dressed up. And generally at that point I’m wearing a nice pair of black dress pants and a fitted sweater. Imagine the reactions when I wear a day dress on the weekend to go out. In college, many of my classmates went to class in pajama pants and sweatshirts. I also went to a Black Tie optional Gala fundraiser for my local theater company. While most were dressed appropriately (my husband wore a dark suit and I wore a cocktail dress) I was horrified to see ripped jeans and *shudders* shorts on some of the attendees.

Somewhere along the line, most people in my generation forgot what it meant to to dress nicely for events. Or more likely, they just don’t care. Comfortable has become synonymous with looking like you just rolled out of bed.

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chilly April 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

Dress codes have changed. That’s all that happened here. I don’t think this is a faux pas at all. If anything, the person who arrives at a shower “over-dressed” is committing the faux pas – by “showing up” everyone else. :)

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mommaknowsbest April 12, 2010 at 10:14 am

Ok, so my girlfriend and I have been sitting here arguing about this one because she thinks maybe these girls really didn’t have the money to purchase so-called “nice” clothes. And they felt it more important to attend the shower with what they had to wear than not to go because they didn’t have appropriate clothes. But, didn’t they have to buy their “sleeze” clothes somewhere? Couldn’t they have bought something that they would be able to wear to a lot of places than just clothes only appropriate around the pool or bar? It takes no more money to buy a pair of pants you can wear a whole bunch of places than a pair of ripped jeans you can only wear to a few places.

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Christine April 12, 2010 at 10:46 am

Sounds like the letter-writer is paying far too much attention to other people’s bosoms. Wearing a tank top in a place of worship that forbids it is rude; wearing casual clothes among good friends in someone’s home is not rude. (Especially when the hostess is dressed the same way!)

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Andromeda April 12, 2010 at 11:44 am

It actually doesn’t surprise me, seeing what some people wear to job interviews nowadays. However, I think for most occassions, like showers, how hard is it to throw on a nice pair of pants and a nice shirt? It doesn’t even have to be your Sunday best – just soemthing that isn’t ripped and doesn’t look like club attire.

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serenity April 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm

While I understand and agree with what the submitter has to say about dressing appropriately for the occasion, it DOES kind of seem like she is “offended” by the breasts themselves, especially with the “she had taken it upon herself to transport the gifts from the gift table to the mother to-be so her ample bosom bounced across the room every few minutes to bring a new gift.” comment. I have a large chest myself, and let me tell ya,while I DO know how to dress myself, I am not going to dress like a nun to hide them, and even if I did , they’d still be visible and move! real ones “bounce”… that’s all there is to it, and it’s upsetting to feel someone is judging you for a natural asset. It’s been done to me, and I don’t appreciate it one bit.

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geekgirl April 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Most of the people I know worry about over-dressing for an event, and standing out, so tend to dress down as much as possible. People just don’t feel comfortable dressed even smartly, let alone dressed up. Personally, I love it when people dress up, and wear a nice dress at every possible occasion.

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love*etiquettehell*gal April 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Showing off your “assets” (or “frontsets” as a friend of mine says) at someone’s shower or special event is certainly a faux pas and in bad taste, which is exactly what “large bosom” girl is doing in a tight, spaghetti strap shirt with large letters across the front. As hostess, she needs to be respectfully and approrpiately dressed, assisting others in feeling comfortable and at ease at her party, serving and helping her guests. Mostly, it means putting your own needs and selfish desires to be the center of attention aside to make a wonderful afternoon or evening for your guests. Most mature adults know how to dress appropriately in all social situations, especially those of us with considerable assets to hide.

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Kitty_ev April 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I think it’s a generational thing and that dress codes have changed for my generation. Usually I’m guided in formality by what the host is wearing, and generally it’s a host that I know so I can ask without feeling awkward. I know some of my friends count ‘smart-casual’ dress as clean, ironed, nice jeans, heeled ankle boots and a blouse. I go for a neat skirt and a fitted top.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dressing up more formally for a bridal or wedding shower, but I do think if one is a guest at a shower and the hostess and guest or honour aren’t dressed up as formally it’s in bad taste to look down on them because of it. It’s the hostess’ right to dictate the formality of the event, and if she and her daughter were happy with casual clothes, then I don’t think any guest should be complaining.

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phoenix April 12, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I think this particular case is more of an event having changed more than dressing standards. Most people I know do not consider a shower held in someone’s home an occasion warranting anything other than what they normally wear. For me, that’s fairly conservative, but for others its more “sexy” type clothing.

It was also a little odd how much emphasis was put on the mother’s bosom. I think the OP was seeing a lot more intentional flaunting that was probably meant. It’s not as if she was getting the guest of honor her packages *just* as an excuse to show that her assets are natural!

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Dani April 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Oh, let’s not blame this on a generational thing! As a 20-something Southern belle I have never been to a baby or bridal shower where people were dressed inappropriately. Some people are just clueless or don’t care.

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Voice of Reason April 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm

More importantly, don’t these people know they shouldn’t allow their ample bosoms to bounce across the room?! Harumpf!

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Bec April 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I kind of agree with those posters who’ve said that the LW seems a bit intent on the hostess’s bosom and whether that bosom was clothed according to her taste. That seems more about the LW’s will to judge harshly than about any real social blunders. It sounds like it was a successful party and a joyful occasion despite the spaghetti straps. Isn’t that kind of success what etiquette is about, in its purest and most benevolent form?

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PrincessSimmi April 12, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I actually rather like this story.

Being a 21 year old that was brought up by a mother who doesn’t know etiquette (and plain doesn’t CARE) I’ve made my fair share of faux pas wearing the wrong thing to events. Honestly, I think that it’s always better to dress as nicely as possible for an event – ie, nice slacks and a nice clean shirt for a shower held in someone’s home, a nice dress for an engagement party, and a really nice dress for a wedding, etc – even if you look a little ‘out’ because everyone else dressed casually at least you know you made the effort and you’re not going to be accused of dressing inappropriately and having your ‘assets’ bouncing around all over the place. I went to my Uncle’s engagement party wearing black slacks, red heels and a nice red satin top – that was about average for the people there (Mum, of course, wore a shirt so low I thought she was going to give my uncle’s fiancee’s 13 year old nephew a peep show!). Maybe the people wearing nightclub-wear actually came straight from the club from the night before!?

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SHOEGAL April 13, 2010 at 9:16 am

I think it says something about you when you dress a certain way. Someone who wears something that is appropriate, clean and in good repair says that you care about yourself and in turn others because you made an effort. It is up to you what you want the message to be. I’m afraid that intentional or not the hostess in this story with the “ample bosom bouncing across the room” conveyed the message that she didn’t care what the hell she looked like or anything else because she couldn’t be bothered to give her chest adequate support or coverage. Whatever the size of the boob – a shower is NOT the place to display them.

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geekgirl April 13, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I’m afraid, when you have a big bosom, there is NOTHING you can wear that hides them. There is no way of avoiding clothes either stretching across them, or billowing out so far you look like you’re wearing a tent. And bosoms do bounce – there’s nothing you can do about that. Believe me, there’s nothing you can do to stop them being noticable, whether you’re trying to show them off or not. The fact is, some women have big bosoms, and I see no reason to be ashamed of them, hide them as if they were a shocking and horrible disfigurement, or for anyone to feel they are ‘inappropriate’. I mean, lets face it, its hardly as if she could have taken them off!.

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Chocobo April 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm

It seems rather nice of her to go back and forth across the room over and over to fetch presents.

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Redneck Gravy April 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I also am well endowed. They bounce, I’m not going to strap them down with duct tape. I do keep them covered and I am extremely modest about loose/low cut blouses.

I was more interested in the “took great care to dress in slacks…” comment. Really – how much CARE does it take to put on slacks and a top. “Great care” is when you force yourself into an uncomfortable dress, slip, panty hose & heels

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Gloria Shiner April 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I think we are hearing interpretation from the OP who doesn’t seem to like these people for some reason. Or maybe she just resents people with “ample bosoms”.

Frankly I’m not sure if the two events described above were about the same person or not.

Gee, next time I’m hosting an event I’ll contact this person to see if my level of “bounce” is acceptable or not :-P

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Mary April 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I don’t think the poster had any problem with the woman’s ample bosom. The way it sounded to me was not the fact that they were bouncing, but that they were bouncing while almost completely uncovered. There is a big difference.
And I don’t the poster is obsessed with the way people dress. I agree with her. It seems way too many people do not know how to dress appropriately these days. I think the trend of dressing down or the trend of not even considering the situation when you choose your outfit is sad.

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Calliope April 13, 2010 at 10:41 pm

It may be a generational thing, but in my experience, it’s not because my generation–I’m in my late twenties–is lazy or sleazy or doesn’t like to look nice. It’s something else, and I can’t quite figure it out. I don’t own jeans or sneakers; instead, I wear 40s and 50s dresses with stockings and heels almost every day, and I get a lot of smiles and compliments from older people who remember when everyone dressed that way, but I also get tons of compliments from people my age and younger. One of the most frequent things other young women say to me is, “I wish I could pull off dressing like that.” It’s weird, because I think everyone can “pull off” dressing nice. Maybe not everyone wants to go for the crinolines and hats and heels, but it doesn’t take any more effort to put on a dress than it does a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I guess I don’t know what it is that makes so many people my age think they can’t pull off a silk blouse or a gabardine pencil skirt. There might be some fear of standing out or being overdressed, but I’d much rather stand out for looking put-together than for looking like a slob.

As for the bouncing bosoms: Have ‘em, can’t do anything about ‘em, love ‘em.

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tiffany April 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm

The problem is that most americans don’t care what they look like. I just recently had a baby and am working very hard to get back into shape. I wont leave the house with a little bit of muffin top, however when i walk around the stores and see people, their stomachs are just hanging out. People don’t care. It’s really sad but americans make so many excuses for thier looks. these women probably thought they looked great and don’t realize how trashy it was……

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Fanboy Wife April 17, 2010 at 9:01 am

I went to a relative wedding a couple years ago, and it was pretty fancy-schmancy… except for many of the bride’s high school friends. A lot of them were in jeans, the girls were in tank tops. There also wasn’t any alcohol served at the reception, but many of the underdressed guests were drunk.

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Lyons April 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

At the end of the day, I think most people go for comfort over looks, regardless of where they are going and what they are doing. However, just because most people go for comfort doesn’t mean that I personally think it’s right all the time. A bridal or baby shower, I don’t care what any one wears to that event…seriously, they could show up in a bikini and as long as the host/hostess and guest of honor doesn’t care, why the heck should I? On the other hand, I get silently irate going to a wedding where the bride and groom have totally knocked themselves out to dress up and half the guests don’t BOTHER to find something other to wear than jeans, ripped or otherwise. At my own wedding I explicitly told my family who was pestering me about what they should wear even after I gave them guidelines (which were, anything you want as long as it’s not all in black nor jeans…) and I still had a few people show up like they were going to go to the local dump. For the sake of my wedding though, I had to just change my own attitude and realize that 6 weeks prior 9/11/01 just happened and we were damn glad to be together for the wedding and clothes don’t matter in a situation like that. But it still bugs me. It bugs me at other weddings more than my own because all I can see is that the bride and groom have more than made an effort and have forked over serious cash for a really nice affair and one or more guests show up looking like hip hop rejects. And those are the times that I have to give myself a really stern talking to, because it’s not my wedding and if the bride and groom are okay with what their guests were, it is NONE of my concern.

I have heard over the years that maybe “those” guests didn’t have anything nicer, or couldn’t afford anything nicer…and while that might be true sometimes, it is NOT true all the time. No, I have discovered that in many cases the guests simply do not want to be dictated to about what they should wear, regardless of whether the bride and/or groom said anything at all. The fact that it’s a wedding, to some of the guests, says, “you have to dress up…and be uncomfortable” and these particular guests are going to rebel against that.

It’s like guys who absolutely hate with a purple passion wearing ties…or some women who cannot abide wearing a dress or skirt…

But what I would like to see though is a nice middle ground that doesn’t include jeans to a wedding…but that’s just me.

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livvy April 23, 2010 at 11:25 am

When in doubt, ask when you RSVP. (although a ton of people don’t RSVP either)

There are plenty of nice clothes at Goodwill – money’s not an excuse. Mostly I think it’s ignorance, so I’d suggest that if you want people to look a certain way at an event, you should give them instructions about the dress code on the invitation.

What makes me angriest is when people dress in ripped jeans, bright, sloppy tanks and sneakers at a funeral. Show some respect for the deceased and their family, please!

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VM April 28, 2010 at 11:12 am

The wearers of those ripped jeans and tanks and sneakers probably considered them appropriate for “dress-up” because they’re “the fashion”. When items like that can command hefty price tags at some nouveau grunge boutique, it’s gonna be hard to convince people who show up in them that they’re dogging it.

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MrsAdorkable May 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm

If you don’t have/cannot afford “dressy” clothes (all of my nice clothes were either given to me or purchased from a thrift store.. and yes, they are actually nice) , then at the very least settle for nicer jeans and an appropriate top!

I went to a funeral for an old friend of mine (may he rest in peace) that was quite large (he was very well liked) and while about half of the attendees were dressed appropriately, there was a chunk of teens who looked like they were taking a trip to a mall! I was appalled. One girl in particular really got my goat. She had briefly dated him in high school (he had since graduated and had been attending college). She was rather.. promiscuous. Ok, trashy. So in between her complete (and rather fake looking) breakdowns she would gab with a group of girls dressed equally slutty. I even saw her texting at one point!

I’ll admit, I’ve had my faux pas… When I was 13 my eldest sister was having a baby shower for her first, I walked out of my room wearing a slightly too short pink polo. She quickly made me go change though.

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Liutgard July 23, 2010 at 5:04 am

No, it’s not generational. When I was a teenager, the ‘jeans to anything, including church’ became the standard. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. My kids were brought up to wear decent clothes, clean and in good repair, and to dress appropriately for the occasion.

No, it’s not that they can’t afford to dress better. As someone pointed out, the cr@ppy clothes they’re wearing came from somewhere, and they cost just as much as decent things. And yes, Goodwill or a resale shop can offer you a nice wardrobe for a minimum of cost.

It’s a matter of respect- for your host or the occasion, for others, and for yourself. Showing up in sloppy clothes, or sexually suggestive clothes, or your yardwork outfit to a shower, or a wedding, or a funeral shows an incredible lack of respect. Even if you don’t have any respect for the event, have some respect for yourself and dress appropriately.

My younger daughter got married Monday. It was a small wedding at the courthouse, but I made her a pretty dress and bought her some flowers. Her dad showed up in slacks and a nice shirt. Her brother showed up, wearing a clean pair of slacks and a nice shirt (which was nice as I’d hate to have had to ruin the wedding by killing him ;-)). I wore a skirt and a silk sweater. The other friends that were there were nicely dressed. And the groom’s mom wore a velour tracksuit with a shiny sort of shirt worn open over it.

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Simone August 11, 2010 at 3:07 am

I was chatting to another mum recently and relating the story of how my brother, when young, had the very bad habit of pulling the neck of his tshirt into his mouth and chewing on it, thus ruining the shirt. She commented that that must have been frustrating for my mother if he did it to his ‘good’ tshirts. I replied “It was the ’70s. There was no such thing as a ‘good’ tshirt, remember?” To which she replied “Oh yeah…”

So standards have definitely slipped over the years.

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Lenera August 16, 2010 at 6:40 am

I’ll note that in the OP’s polite description of the clothing, there was no mention of a bra. And when someone is sporting “a tight-tight black spaghetti strap top,” you can tell if they are or aren’t wearing one. At that point, size doesn’t really matter – even an A-cup will bounce with no support whatsoever! I belive her comments about the lady’s “bouncing bosom” was her tactful way of saying that the hostess should have at least put on some undergarments before allowing others into her home for an important event in someone else’s life.
If it’s your party, and all about you, dress how you want. But when it’s another person’s shower, put the “girls” away, and pull out your nice clothes. Rather than stenciling “Billy’s Mom” across her chest, perhaps this woman should consider dressing in a manner that won’t induce her children to cringe when she’s in public.
On a seperate note, I do agree with the Thrift Store suggestion. Also try surpluss stores. They have the latest trends – and there are still dressy trends, not just ratty looking jeans! – for much, much cheaper than the deparment stores will. I recently got a formal at a surplus store for only $20. A week later, I saw the exact same dress at the mall for nearly ten times the price. It’s called savvy shopping. There is absolutely no excuse for sloppy dressing.

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